The New York Times, Nina Planck, and Safety of Vegan Diets

Last week brought more shoddy coverage of vegan diets from The New York Times. This time, it was a debate about the safety of veganism. And it didn’t occur to the Times to solicit opinions from anyone with actual expertise in vegan nutrition.

At the center of the discussion was food writer and farmer’s market expert Nina Planck, who excels at making sweeping, unsupported observations about nutrition. She is woefully uninformed and spectacularly unconcerned about her lack of knowledge and credentials.

Planck believes that we have “extraordinary needs for nutrients not found in plants,” –including vitamins A and D, omega-3 fats, and carnitine–which translates to a need for what she refers to as “synthetic supplements.” I imagine that in referring to these supplements as “synthetic,” she’s hoping to convince us that they’re somehow inferior to the “real nutrients” found in food.

But let’s look at that. Vegan sources of the long chain omega-3 fats DHA and EPA aren’t synthetic; they’re derived directly from microalgae.  The DHA in fish ultimately comes from exactly the same source.

It’s the same with vitamin B12. Whether it ends up in a pill or a pork chop, it was produced by bacteria. The big difference is that the B12 in pills isn’t bound to protein, which turns out to be a good thing for bioavailability. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends vitamin B12 supplements for all people over the age of 50 since, in older people, B12 is better absorbed from pills than from animal foods. So much for the “supplements aren’t as good as food” argument.

I’ve written before about animal products versus plants for vitamins D and A. Vitamin D is very poorly supplied by foods and although you could technically get enough from fish, it’s not realistic or sustainable to do so. As a result, all of us, vegan and meat-eater alike, have to depend on fortified foods (the vitamin D added to cow’s milk is no more “natural” than the vitamin D in almond milk) or sun exposure or supplements. Vitamin D is an issue for everyone, not just vegans.

And since Americans get between a quarter and a third of their vitamin A from plant foods, they’d be in trouble if plant sources weren’t effective. The Institute of Medicine affirms that vitamin A needs can be met completely from plant foods. (But hey—these are just the world’s leading vitamin A researchers, so you can’t really expect them to know as much as a farmers’ market expert!)

Planck’s big concern is about babies and children, though, and she says that the breast milk of vegetarian women is dramatically lower in DHA than that of omnivores and also doesn’t provide adequate carnitine. Carnitine is an amino acid, but not an essential one since humans can manufacture it. There is no reason to think that vegan or vegetarian women would produce breast milk that is low in carnitine.

Some research shows that milk of vegetarian women is lower in DHA, though, which is not surprising.  But it’s higher than what has been provided by the infant formulas that have nourished generations of healthy babies. And, breastfeeding vegetarian mothers can easily raise DHA levels of their milk with supplements.

Planck says “The most risky period for vegan children is weaning. Growing babies who are leaving the breast need complete protein, omega-3 fats, iron, calcium and zinc. Compared with meat, fish, eggs and dairy, plants are inferior sources of every one.”

Yes, weaning is a critical period in infant feeding, and yes some animal foods do contain more protein, omega-3 fats, iron, calcium, and zinc. But does it matter? We don’t need “as much as possible” of every nutrient; we just need enough. So, if plant foods can provide enough, who cares whether some animal products have more?

If she wants to make the case that it’s easier to meet needs for some of these nutrients with animal foods, I can’t argue with that. That doesn’t mean that vegan kids can’t or don’t get enough. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have great data on the nutrient intake of vegan children. But we do know that vegan diets can indeed meet the nutritional needs of children. And it’s not as though omnivore children never have nutrient deficiencies.  In fact, excessive consumption of cow’s milk places toddlers at risk for iron deficiency anemia. Many U.S. children also don’t consume enough calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, folate, or vitamins A, C and E.

There is so much misinformation and confusion wrapped up in Planck’s two sentences about soy, that I’m not entirely sure how to decipher them. She says: “Soy protein is not good for a baby’s first food for the same reason that soy formula is not good for newborns. It’s a poor source of calcium, iron and zinc — and much too high in estrogen. It also lacks adequate methionine which babies and children need to grow properly.”

First, who says soy formula isn’t good for newborns? Babies grow and develop just fine on soy formula which has been around for nearly 100 years. And it’s fortified with all of the things—calcium, iron, zinc, methionine (and carnitine)—that Planck believes is missing from it.

As for soy protein as a “first food,” does she mean a first solid food? I’m not sure whether she’s confused or is just trying to confuse, because nobody recommends tofu or other soy products as a first solid food for young infants. First solids are nearly always enriched cereals. And as babies are weaned, they are introduced to a mixed diet of grains, legumes and veggies, making concerns about individual amino acids irrelevant.

Her information on vitamin B12 seems to come exclusively from an online article by a licensed acupuncturist who says that “studies consistently show that up to 50 percent of long-term vegetarians and 80 percent of vegans are deficient in B12.”  The “studies that consistently show” this turn out to be one study of 66 vegetarians and 29 vegans in Germany and the Netherlands. Other research doesn’t come close to confirming those percentages. The fact is that vegans who don’t supplement with B12 run the risk of deficiency. Those who take a supplement don’t.

There’s nothing new here. Nina Planck doesn’t like vegan diets and she doesn’t know nutrition science. That’s always a dangerous combination. The Nina Plancks of the world can’t be stopped from writing what they like, but it’s deplorable that the New York Times would provide them with a platform.

 

Edited to add: Thank you to Dr. Reed Mangels, author of The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book for giving me feedback on this post before I published it. Reed is THE expert on vegan nutrition for children and pregnant women.

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65 Responses to The New York Times, Nina Planck, and Safety of Vegan Diets

  1. SkepticalVegan April 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Great take down of woefully ill-informed opinion piece!

    • Butterflies April 24, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      Thank-you – I’ve shared this as I like your explanation. I don’t mind taking a few healthy vegan supplements. I’m super healthy, been vegan 33 years (veg 10 years before that) and know that I will age healthfully.

  2. Tamara Lackey April 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    excellent post – informative, intelligent & thorough. i’m surprised that the NY Times gave such a platform to so much misinformation. greatly concerning, actually.

  3. Amy April 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Thank you for responding to this! I know better than to just believe the things she says, but I don’t have kids and don’t know about babies and DHA and all of that, so even I felt a little… “huh?”. I can only imagine how much confusion it could cause for a non-vegan who doesn’t know anything about her or her motives.

  4. Eric April 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Nice. The times should balance that garbage with this. FWIW, after 10 years as a vegan, my B12 is actually a touch above the reference range.

  5. Joel April 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    any chance of getting this published in the nytimes or somewhere with more exposure?

  6. Reed April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Great post, Ginny. Thanks!
    Reed

  7. VeganFeed April 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Awesome! Additionally, mercury in fish and fish oil supplements should be a concern for pregnant and nursing mothers — I’d suggest that even omni’s get their DHA and EPA from lower in the food chain (micro algae)

  8. Jen @ Lita's World April 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Missed the article, but thanks for posting this great post of information!! Now I can be ready to share it too should anyone ask me about it :)

  9. Mihl April 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    That woman seenst to be quite a comedian.

    As always thank you for your great article.

  10. Janae Wise April 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Ginny, THANK YOU for speaking up. It’s deplorable, inexcusable that the NY Times continues to allow this sort of (using your words) shoddy reporting.

    I’m the mother of 4 healthy vegan kids, 3 of whom were vegan pregnancies as well. I’m proof that vegan kids can thrive. I’d just like to see our perspective have our say. Thank you for speaking up!!

    • Ann April 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Excellent article! Thank you Janae first for raising vegan children, and second for proving the naysayers wrong! If I ever have children, they will be raised vegan. I wish I had been raised that way. I’m sure your children are so grateful!

  11. Matt April 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    The NY Times was made abundantly aware of:
    http://veganhealth.org/articles/realveganchildren
    But they choose to ignore facts and continue to publish lies.
    Just shows you can always get published if you attack ethical eating.

  12. Have Gone Vegan April 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    I was hoping you’d refute her nonsense! Thank you.

  13. Bonnie April 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Oh my goodness!!! This article makes me crazy. I am currently a nursing mom of a 14 month old. I get slack for feeding him vegan and bringing him up vegan. I just had someone tell me 1 week ago that I was doing a HUGE disservice to my son by not feeding him meat and dairy. This article just backed up all of my friend’s and familiy’s beliefs. Now I am really going to hear it from them. THANKS NINA PLANCK!
    Also, I have been thinking about weaning my son at 18 months, so this article scares me. Am I doing thte right thing for my son? It really does make me doubt myself and I have been reading about vegan diets for 7 years. I can’t imagine the doubt it is going to cause in Mom’s who are new to all of this. Again, THANKS NINA PLANCK! Nice job!
    I am feeling very confused and scared now. I am feeling doubt and I am not sure why.
    You made me feel better, Ginny.

    • Jen L. April 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

      I feel the same way! I still nurse my 23 month old partly because he’s an addict, and partly because I’m afraid he won’t get enough nutrients from his vegan diet once I wean him. He is VERY picky, so that worries me. Thank goodness we have a vegan pediatrician…I’m going to see him next month and have him test my son’s nutrient levels just to be safe.

  14. Cherish Bickel April 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    Dear Nina Planck,
    What she said! Oh and let me add that eating certain foods-such as flax seed, our bodies create their own DHA. I would call that inferior nutrition than eating the flesh of an animal who got the DHA by consuming nutrients to create DHA.
    And FYI my nutrients-that according to you I am deficient in- were higher in my vegan pregnancy(without supplements) than my omnivore pregnancies (in which I had to take artificial supplements to keep at good levels.)

  15. Vegas Vegan April 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    This reponse needs to be in the form of a letter to the editor or something similar. The fact checkers @ the Times must have been on vacation that day this so-called “expert” was published.

  16. Percy F. Pigeon April 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Bravo Ginny.

    Seems the NYT has form when it comes to consulting non-experts about vegan nutrition.

    I alluded to this in the comment I left at T. Parker-Pope’s rewrite earlier this week of ‘Veganism Is Difficult’.Although I frequently read columns and comments, I rarely write them. But this business of writing about veganism in a prominent forum, without consulting professional experts in the field of vegan nutrition happens over and over.

    As an Australian subscriber to the Times, its got me wondering – is all of their journalistic practice this bad? More likely, I think, is that it is difficult for people – even trained journalists – to think critically and rationally outside of their status quo-demarcated ‘values’ comfort zone.

  17. Carol Loftus April 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Great article!!!! Thank you!!!!!

  18. Heatherdee April 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    Thank you, Ginny. Excellent post! *This* is worth reading. I would like to see New York Times publish this.

  19. Danita Hines MS, RD, LD April 24, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Don’t forget that a big part of Nina’s mission is to make the folks at the Weston Price Foundation happy so that they will recommend her books to their followers.

    She received a thumbs up review for her book Real Food: What to Eat and Why from the WAPF and then a thumbs down review from them for Real Food for Mother and Baby.

    She’s obviously working on her street cred with the WAPF in this NYT article and my guess is now that she has 3 kids she’s working on a soon to be released book about nutrition and feeding children.

    http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-up-reviews/real-food

    http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-down-reviews/real-food-for-mother-and-baby

    http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2009/10/nina-planck-responds-to-wapfs-thumbs-down-book-review-yep-you-read-that-right.html

    • duncanM April 26, 2012 at 6:13 am #

      just wow!…the last link read like someone desperately pleading with an extremist cult leader that they were adhering to the dictum of the WPF….

  20. Laura Pelly April 24, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Hi Ginny–

    I read this with much interest this morning. My twin older daughters are both vegan, and my younger daughter is not. My husband and I are marginal meat eaters, and I consume no dairy. Veganism has been a keen topic in our home for some time and, of course my concern has often been that their vegan diet was in fact meeting their dietary needs. After careful and educated inspection, I have come the conclusion that a conscientious vegan is a very healthy vegan. Like anything else, you have to do your homework.

    There are many misconceptions concerning the vegan diet such as adequate protein intake, adequate vitamins, etc. i think this is partially due to people not even basically understanding adequate intake in a non-vegan diet. Also, I think the food pyramid is woefully overdue for a serious overhaul.

    Regarding vegan children, I have discussed this with my own girls, and I do think it is important to seek out a pediatrician that supports veganism to make sure babies are receiving all the vitamins and nutrients they need. As for soy formula, my youngest child was woefully lactose intolerant, and had to take soy formula almost from birth. She was a healthy, thriving infant and continues to enjoy good health, so I do believe that is a non-issue as well.

    There are many source of protein for vegans such as almonds and quinoa to name a few. Non-vegans are woefully misinformed, and the NY TImes did a terrible disservice to the inquisitive healthy community by printing a piece so seriously speckled with misinformation. Thanks so much for taking the time to point this out.

    Please visit my blog http://www.ispeakvegan.tumblr.com which gives much thought and insight for people attempting to lean toward a plant based diet in their own homes while still contending with meat eaters in the family.

    Thanks again.

  21. maryc April 24, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    Also, soy doesn’t have “estrogen” in it. I’m so sick of the anti-soy scare.

  22. Betty A. April 24, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Ginny–it would be great if you did an Op-Ed piece like this for the NYT.

  23. maryc April 24, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    any chance of getting this published as a letter to the editor at NYT?

  24. Jan C Steven April 24, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Dear Ginny, Thank you for this. My hubby and I have never felt better since becoming nearly 100% vegan. (Tim Hortons – Canada’s favorite coffee shop – still doesn’t offer soy milk – hence the odd ounce of cow’s milk.) My family doc was surprised to see how healthy my level of B12 is (I take a supplement.) She commented that she is seeing lots of folks who are not vegans who are low in B12. To say nothing of young people who are very overweight and who have high levels of “bad” cholestrol and high blood pressure. Thank you to Jack Norris and you for all you are doing to improve the lives of our fellow creatures, including humans. :) BEST! / jan

  25. Infidel Poetry April 24, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    What I really don’t understand is why oh why does Nina Planck still have a platform at the NYTimes? Actually I do know why, as the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

    The NYTimes already shut Planck down in 2007 regarding her Death By Veganism article (http://goo.gl/Cacny) as it was one of the very rare times that the editor, Clark Hoyt had to essentially apologize for poor information presented in an op-ed piece: The Danger of the One-Sided Debate (http://goo.gl/gLt6D).

    Yet, here Planck is again, invited to spout the exact same nonsense!

    Planck is in no way credentialed by any legitimate standard and even Planck’s own organization has thrown her under the bus with that thumbs down review of her pregnancy and infant nutrition book. Of course, the reasons were because Planck didn’t advocate enough of their own WAPF woo.

    So wait, vegan mothers are bad because they use synthetic supplements but Planck states in her own book, “My own fertility diet was basic. I took extra folic acid and a little cod liver oil.” Why is she allowed to take “synthetic” supplements but a vegan mother isn’t? Also, mainstream nutritional recommendations are strongly in support for all women to take pre-natal supplements.

    The reason mainstream nutrition has long used supplements to prevent deficiencies is because they work. The contention is whether supplements confer longevity or prevent conditions like heart disease or cancers, as of yet, they don’t, but supplements do work just fine in deficiency prevention, that’s why salt is iodized, milk have vitamin A&D added, etc.

    The other panelists in the Is Veganism Good for Everyone? roundup weren’t much better. Rhys Southan is not an expert in nutrition because he has a blog, some doubts based on fringe Internet health ideas, and some conspiracy theories. Is he an expert on beating Jeremy Coon as well? http://www.beatjeremycoon.com.

    And a coauthor of a pop diet book called “The Happiness Diet?” who is a professor of psychiatry?

    Honestly, the vegan panelists weren’t much better, sure they were vegan and wrote some books, nice people an all I’m sure, but they were not nutritionists or scientists.

    Why did the NYTimes not bother to contact any well-credentialed and mainstream nutritionists? I understand that they want “provocative opinions… that don’t confirm what you already thought,” but I want INFORMED opinions from CREDENTIALED experts that have a foot in RESPECTED ORGANIZATIONS with PROFESSIONAL PEERS who acknowledge their expertise and authority. If an actual nutritionist or scientists wants to offer general warnings about adopting a plant-based diet, we can take such warnings seriously. Not everything Ginny Messina or Jack Norris says about a vegan diet is all roses, and it’s important to weigh such information heavily due to their credentials and demonstrated adherence to an informed science-based process. We have no reason to accept just any old opinion.

    The problem with the anti-vegan health rhetoric is that it pulls it’s nutritional information from the fringe and the only argument that can be mustered is this notion that “the scientists are all wrong” (or in nefarious collusion) or simply interject unwarranted fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The NYTimes has to ask itself, is it pro-science, or does it want to be a mouthpiece for those espousing pseudo-science and conspiracy theories?

    The reason I am largely unfazed by criticisms of this or that vitamin or mineral potentially missing is because there are and have been large populations of lacto-vegetarians. The only food source difference between them and vegans is cows’ milk, so when people go on and on about how important nutrients in meat are, it’s preposterous. They need to confine their arguments as to what exactly is so important about dairy, the only difference between a traditional Indian vegetarian diet and a vegan diet.

    The cure of a one sided debate isn’t to interject more opinions as if they all have equal value. Credentialed opinions matter far more than un-credentialed pop book writers and bloggers. This style of “reporting” is a great way to make a “newspaper of record” indistinguishable from the pabulum that plagues the Internet and misinforms a less-critically minded population on so many levels.

    If this is an attempt to make the NYTimes relevant in the digital age (by trolling), I have little hope that the institution will survive if it can’t better conduct and distinguish itself.

  26. barefeet April 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Just for the record, there are many licensed acupuncturists who teach real nutrition, not this fad-I-heard-it-on-the-internet-so-it-must-be-true stuff. I wish the ones who buy into the whole high meat diet would stop talking like they represent ancient asian wisdom. They don’t. Most Asian cultures ate small amounts of meat only as a condiment, no milk and lots of soy bean products. It really makes me growly when they re-write history to excuse their own dietary preferences.

    If your alternative medical provider tells you that you can’t be healthy on a plant based diet, find a new one. You can start your search by looking on Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s site here: http://www.compassionatecook.com/resources/vegan-wellness-practitioners

  27. MollyG April 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Please, please, PLEASE submit this as a letter to the editor!!

  28. Angela April 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Very interesting read! Thank you so much for sharing. I agree that you should submit it as a letter to the editor.

  29. Ginny Messina April 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Thanks all, for these comments. I did submit a pared down version of this to the op ed department and they said they don’t accept pieces that are in response to articles that appear only on their website. I think the same is true for letters to the editor. They said if I left a comment on the website, they would highlight it, so at least I did that.

  30. D April 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    I’m sorry but Nina Planck is totally right and she is an expert- vegans need to supplement if they want to be healthy: B12, carnitine and essential amino acids (lysine, methionine) are a must and let’s stop denying it because it’s against science and it’s annoying. And yes, soy is very bad not only for babies but for adults too.Those who won’t supplement will suffer long term consequences of their bad choices and I do not understand why vegans get so defensive when it comes to facts, why is it so hard to admit that they go vegan for ethical reasons and they can (most likely) maintain their health thanks to supplementation.

    • Kate M April 25, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      No one said vegans don’t need to supplement some things. Even ominvores need to supplement some things. Needing to supplement doesn’t make being vegan bad.

    • Gary April 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      Please read Ginny’s columns on soy, in which she shows that according to a wealth of peer-reviewed studies, it is a healthy food, and may reduce the risk of some diseases, especially if consumed life-long.

      I’m vegan for ethical reasons and I’m healthy, as are both of my vegan godchildren and all the vegan children I know.

      I don’t get defensive about facts – I like facts – but I do feel compelled to correct dangerous misinformation.

    • Rebekah April 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      Your comment is ironic because Ginny Messina is one of the standout vegan dietitians who always makes a point to explain what needs to be supplemented and how best to do it, to have an optimally healthy vegan diet.

      Nina Planck is not an expert – she has no nutrition degree…just a lot of opinions!

      And as Messina stated in her post, carnitine is not an essential amino acid, it can be made by the body. Lysine and Methionine are available in plant foods so I’m not sure why you even bring them up. And soy has been eaten for centruries!

    • Robert April 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      I agree with you about soy, which is why I won’t go anywhere near it. There are plenty of other good foods however. Beans and lentils are rich sources of protein so why would I even need to consider soy “foods”.

  31. Vegan Karen April 25, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    I read your article and was saying YOU GO! outloud! I have to agree with every single thing you said. I thought the same thing when I read that Nina’s article in the Times. I even looked at her byline to see if she had any credentials. When I saw she didn’t, I navigated away from the page and thought to myself, she is a nut.

    Love your site!

  32. Kate M April 25, 2012 at 5:23 am #

    Hi Ginny,
    I love this blog as a resource and keep your book on hand at all times to help my family and I stay healthy on a vegan diet. I have a question about soy. Over the past few months I’ve noticed that consumption of tofu or tempeh causes acne breakouts for me. I’ll go a few weeks avoiding it, my skin will clear beautifully. Have tofu for lunch one day and wake up the next with several blemishes around my chin and/or forehead. I’ve tried it many times, making sure it doesn’t correspond to normal monthly hormone fluctuations and it seems to very clearly be caused by the soy consumption.
    Why would this happen? Is it an allergy? Am I sensitive to the phytoestrogens?
    Any insight would be appreciated.
    Thanks for all you do!

    • Dana April 28, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      Most scientific studies say that what you eat has nothing to do with breakouts.

      The tradition of acupuncture says that most acne is due to the stomach not processing food well.

      From my point of view, there is a good chance that you are not digesting soy well. First, you need to observe yourself carefully. It possible that you are craving soy and breaking out for a third reason. If so, just eliminating soy isn’t going to help. If giving up soy completely works for you, go for it. There are plenty of other wonderful protein rich foods out there. If your sensitivity is mild, you may find that you can go back to small amounts of soy after avoiding it completely for a year or so. From our point of view, this is because your stomach “chi” will have strengthened after “having a rest.”

  33. Jessica @Vegbooks April 25, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Wonderful post about a topic I care a great deal about, both as the mother of a vegan child and as an advocate for veganism! You’re absolutely right about soy — I don’t know a soul who introduced it as a first solid and my favorite baby food books, Super Baby Food and New Vegetarian Baby, certainly don’t recommend it. And the reminder on b12 supplementation is always a good one. Informed vegans are healthy vegans.

  34. Rebekah April 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Thanks for this sane rebuttal! I would add that when she says, “soy contains way too much estrogen” she is completely over-simplifying the similarity between the estrogen in our bodies and the phytoestrogens in plants.

    I think Nina Planck is one of those unfortunate ex-vegans who, for whatever reason, make it their mission in life to prove that veganism is not healthy/ethical/moral/whatever. It’s too bad that she continues to be given such a platform as the New York Times to voice her uneducated opinions!

  35. The Valley Vegan (lisa f.) April 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Ginny, as always, a fantastic job. I was cheering for you at every swing & at the final take-down! You rock.

    I had to chuckle to myself, though, as she claimed that soy products were too high in estrogen to be appropriate for babies… but what about BREAST MILK!! There must be somewhat more estrogen in the milk produced by a highly charged post-pregnancy human female than in any soy product!

  36. duncanM April 26, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    so the link has changed and the article in question has been morphed into a debate on veganism with 3 against and 3 for … that’s at least an improvement… good to see Rip E on there (althought I know you’re not a low fat fan Ginny)..

    • barefeet April 26, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      The new “vegan debate” page is maybe worse than the old, just Nina’s opinion page. In it is the complete original article, complete with factual errors, and two other non-experts who work the fears of parents everywhere. And on the vegan side, we have a person interested in promoting a no fat, all whole foods vegan diet, a person interested in weight loss but has no credentials, and a wacko who is still trying to convince the world that we should all be vegan because of our teeth. Give it up people! Nobody goes vegan because they feel like their canine teeth are insufficiently sharp.

      I was just witness to a facebook fight yesterday where a new vegan pulled out the “our teeth and digestive tract show that we were all made to be vegan” argument and she got completely chewed out. She hasn’t been vegan long enough to recognize how long ago that vegan teeth/digestive tract thing was debunked.

      Where did the times come up with these people?

      • Cherie April 27, 2012 at 10:03 am #

        Not to mention that Lierre Keith woman (sorry, I can’t be bothered to look up spelling) wasn’t even vegan! She admitted to binging on dairy and eggs and then said veganism didn’t work for her. Uhm…..let’s get what veganism is down first, lady. Looks like her omni diet is what didn’t work for her.

  37. Bea Elliott April 26, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    Thank you for setting things right Ginny…

    Here’s a thought on B12 though — If anyone cares to do a search on B12 in “livestock” feed they’ll find it’s common to feed pigs, cows, sheep and goats B12 supplements along with countless other vitamins and other “artificial” gruel.

    Lastly… If soy was such a harmful/damaging alternative to animal based protein – Why does the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) exist? Obviously this global food program sees soya as quite viable for meeting human nutritional needs.

    I wouldn’t want soy as my only food… But I’m not half of afraid of it as Planck wants us all to be. It’s nutritional. It’s safe. It’s tasty, versatile and affordable. It’s food! Filtering that food through a living being to eventually consume his/her flesh in the end is just nonsense!

  38. gretchen April 27, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    THANK YOU FOR THIS, Ginny!

    I think it would help if everyone–and i mean everyone–who read Ginny’s response and is angered by the NYT’s shoddiness on this issue send a letter to the editor. There’s lots of calls–appropriately!!–for Ginny to spread this around as effectively as possible, but let’s all help by flooding the Times with polite but firm rebuttals of our own.

  39. Cherie April 27, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Well, I didn’t CLIMB to the top of the food chain to eat delicious fruits and vegetables. ;)
    —–>happy, muscular, strong vegan of almost 10 years.

  40. Brian G April 27, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Ginny, you’re just awesome. I love the deconstruction of the original article, point by point. And there were a few good laughs in your response!

  41. Joseph Espinosa April 28, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    The best defense for indefensible behavior, causing others to suffer and die for our own pleasure, is to lie. Painting a picture, the bigger the better, that eating animal products is done for medical or nutritional necessity is way less ugly than admitting that animals are made to suffer horribly and die because we enjoy eating meat, eggs and milk. That the New York Times would print such factually erroneous material is proof positive that journalism is dead.

  42. Dreena Burton April 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Thank you for addressing her article so thoroughly Ginny. As a vegan mom of three, I find these types of articles very frustrating, and have decided that I am simply “done” with Nina.

    I will share this on my fb page, twitter, etc. Thanks. :)

  43. lizz April 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    In regard to the comment about suffering consequences from long term ingestion of soy, I have been vegetarian since 1998 and have absolutely no health problems related to my diet. I am wonderfully mentally aware, very physically fit (I even have sexy girl muscles), and have more energy than many of my non-veg associates. I take a multi when I remember to, eat whole grains and proteins including legumes and tofu, and lots of veggies. I am deficient in nothing and am, in fact, preventing myself from developing many conditions, from heart disease to dementia to obesity and even possibly Alzheimer’s, thanks to refraining from meat. No one needs to fear soy or vegan diets, but everyone benefits from a diverse diet full of whole grains and proteins that aren’t loaded with pesticides, hormones, and toxins. Thank you for your article, Ginny.

  44. Nadine April 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Thank you for this response that I can now send to the concerned family member who contacted me after reading the NYT article,

    It’s nice to have a great educated voice in the vegan community :)

  45. V July 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    So sorry you are preaching to the choir. When people ask me where I get my iron, protein and vitamin D I just ask them where they get their’s, how much are they consuming and how much they really need? As conscious plant based diet consumer I know the answers for myself but most have no clue about their own diets.

  46. Melody Stein October 15, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    This article did a good job of defending the vegan lifestyle and rebutting the false claims made in the original New York Times article. I have followed a vegetarian diet for my entire life. My parents were vegetarians before I was born and chose to raise my brother and I according their dietary choices. We were always given the choice to adopt a more omnivorous diet but neither of us did. In fact, beginning when I was around twelve years old I became completely vegan for several years. I can honestly say that growing up eating a solely vegetarian diet caused me no harm but instead only improved my health. This is not rare, though. Many cultures have, for centuries, relied solely upon plant-based diets. The Hindu and Jain religions mandate vegetarianism as part of their faiths. Followers of these ancient religions have raised their children for years on these types of diets with no ill effects. In many East Asian cultures as well, milk and diary products were rarely traditionally used and even today lactose intolerance is higher in people of East Asian descent. The truth is, for most people, animal products are more luxury than necessity and many could live more healthily and just as happily without them.
    The only issue I take with this is article is Ginny Messina’s use of potentially antagonistic language. An overly aggressive stance does nothing to convince her audience that a vegan lifestyle is a healthy and valid choice for people of all life stages. As an “alternative” lifestyle, we must remain as objective and logic-based as possible in order to be taken seriously. Overall, however, she succeeded in bringing to light the flaws in the article she was addressing and creating a powerful argument in support of a vegan lifestyle for all.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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